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HRN Original Blog:
55,000 Furlongs to the Finish

Little Mike and King Kreesa run in Hong Kong's richest races

 

The timing of the Hong Kong International Races being contested only 1 month after the Breeders’ Cup often spoils the likelihood of America’s best turf horse from trying to compete.  However, for the first time since 2010, American horses are going to make the effort to win some of the most prestigious races in Asia.

 

Little Mike and King Kreesa have made the exhausting trip to Hong Kong to try and carve out a piece of the $72 Million HKD ($9.6M USD) in prize money being offered in this year’s Hong Kong International Races. The international races are made up of the 6 furlong Sprint, the Mile, the 1 ¼ mile Cup, and the 1 ½ mile Vase.

 

For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, and their racing system, the city state is home to 7 million people, 2 race tracks and boasts a yearly racing betting handle equal to all of the tracks combined in the U.S. Sha Tin, the track where the International Races are to be contested has a 1 1/8 mile main turf track with a highly advanced water draining system to help maintain the racing surface during the very damp rainy season in Southeast Asia. This system creates a very consistent racing surface often rated as good despite an annual rainfall of nearly 10 feet per year!

 

Fortunately for Little Mike and King Kreesa, as well as the rest of the runners, December is one of the most moderate months of the year in the tropical climate where little rain is seen and temperatures often range between 60º and 70ºF.

 

The one question the pair from America will need to answer: Can they turn right? Sha Tin contests races clockwise which is opposite of all racing venues in the U.S. Also, those that remember the Dubai racing carnival, Little Mike did not show his best form in the Duty Free.

 

First to race of the American pair is King Kreesa, who is planning his assault on the one turn Mile. This will be no easy task. Having suffered a mild fever during the 14 hour flight to Hong Kong, he has missed out on some of his intended training. Recent reports from on track veterinarians suggest he has regained his health and is now looking much better during his morning workouts. However, he will need to dig deep and find his best to succeed against this highly acclaimed group assembling for the Hong Kong Mile.

 

King Kreesa has had a mixed season in the USA, but he is clearly at his best at around the one mile distance, in which he will race on Sunday. Finishing a very respectable second, 1 ¼ lengths behind Wise Dan in the Fourstardave Handicap earlier this year, we know he can compete with the best in the world. His pace pressing running style recently saw him to victory in an overnight stakes at Belmont as his final prep for the Hong Kong Mile. If he is to find the winner’s circle at Sha Tin, King Kreesa will need to best a talented field including Moonlight Cloud, Sky Lantern, and local Hong Kong miler Glorious Days. His front running style suits him well in a race typically void of fast pace. Able One cruised to victory at odds of 66-1 in 2011 by sitting chilly on the front end, turning it on early down the stretch and never looking back.

 

The second of the American invaders is four-time Grade 1 winner Little Mike. He will be seeking glory in Hong Kong’s most prestigious race, the Hong Kong Cup. Run over the 1 ¼ mile distance, the $20 Million HKD purse attracts some of the best middle distance turf horses from Japan, Europe, and Australia. This year is no exception. Cirrus Des Aigles is back for the fourth straight year, and is determined to find a way to win one of the few unconquered international grade 1’s in his esteemed career. Also part of the field is reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Military Attack who has been trained this season specifically to peak at this race. He, like Little Mike, likes to sit near the front and has one of the most explosive turns of foot to be found in Hong Kong.

 

The key to success in this race is positioning into the first turn. With the race starting right in front of the grandstand mid stretch, there is a short run up, about 1 furlong, to the first turn. California Memory, winner from the last two editions of this race has won from the inside post position and under brilliant positioning from his talented rider, Matthew Chadwick. His strategy, knowing the race had no pace setter was to keep his deep closer much closer to the front of the pack than usual and to save ground on the rail. The strategy was extremely successful, rocketing his mount to victory both times he utilized this approach.

 

Sha Tin is extremely favorable to closers, and like many European turf races, the first mile of the race is merely the means to the end. Slow pace and uneventful trips set up a cavalry charge of a sprint coming down the long stretch. This is where Little Mike’s American running style can be very advantageous in a race unaccustomed to dedicated front-runners. Little Mike has the speed and the class to get far out front and never look back. If he does control the pace in an attempt to try and outsprint the opposition at the finish, he may find himself in a position similar to this year’s Dubai Duty Free where he was swallowed by the field at the top of the stretch.

 

Given the talent of both of these runners and the difficulty of the travel, I would not be surprised by any outcome. But as a fan of both American and Hong Kong racing, I am extremely excited to see some great horses make the trip and compete on the world stage.

 

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Older Comments about Little Mike and King Kreesa run in Hong Kong's richest races...

Yukichan, I haven't heard anything in the past 48 hours about King Kreesa'a improvement, but the photos on the HKJC website suggest he's doing much better. I've sent some emails to friends in Hong Kong to see if they can find anything out. I'm not going to be able to make it across the Pacific this year, but you can bet I'll be listening to the race radio late on Saturday night.
Mike in SB: Good for you! Yours truly is a Happy Valley native for 18 years before moving on to the U.S.
For ILuvTurfRacing: European shippers to Hong Kong have a hard time to beat the top Sha Tin runners – at the Sprint only, those sprinters have raced too much on a straight back home, and the Jubilee Bend (far turn) at Sha Tin is real tricky. Akeed Mofeed will be hurt by the inside post position – particularly if it’s a slow pace early with everybody bunching up, this fella will get up on the bit too soon. Gold-Fun is definitely a tear going into the Mile, but Richard Gibson may have set up this horse peaking too soon. Lord Kanaloa, now breaking from the 12th hole, may not everything his own way, and for those who are not too familiar with John Moore, the legendary George Moore’s elder son, put it this way: he is simply the Todd Pletcher-equivalent at Sha Tin, you take his brigade of starters lightly at your own risk – and big too - because you never know what tricks he has deep in his bag. Finally, for the pair of U.S. representatives: they trained perfectly so far, their coats look way better than many a Euro shipper, but – a very big BUT here – I am much concerned these would be KIP DEVILLE dejavu again. Taking a right turn is totally another ball game, and they have a huge monkey on their back to shake off. Last time a U.S. starter won the big one @ Sha Tin was during the Clinton administration, and HK was just handed back to China!
For ILuvTurfRacing: European shippers to Hong Kong have a hard time to beat the top Sha Tin runners – at the Sprint only, those sprinters have raced too much on a straight back home. Akeed Mofeed will be hurt by the inside post position – particularly if it’s a slow pace early with everybody bunching up, this fella will get up on the bit too soon. Gold-Fun is definitely a tear going into the Mile, but Richard Gibson may have set up this horse peaking too soon. Lord Kanaloa, now breaking from the 12th hole, may not everything his own way, and for those who are not too familiar with John Moore, the legendary George Moore’s elder son, put it this way: he is simply the Todd Pletcher-equivalent at Sha Tin, you take his brigade of starters lightly at your own risk – and big too - because you never know what tricks he has deep in his bag. Finally, for the pair of U.S. representatives: they trained perfectly so far, their coats look way better than many a Euro shipper, but – a very big BUT here – I am much concerned these would be KIP DEVILLE dejavu again. Taking a right turn is totally another ball game, and they have a huge monkey on their back to shake off. Last time a U.S. starter won the big one @ Sha Tin was during the Clinton administration, and HK was just handed back to China!
Ambitious, have you heard how KK is progressing post illness?
Selections from our Chinese forum's pre-race show recording session locally in Hong Kong (web use): Vase: THE FUGUE, RED CADEAUX, MOUNT ATHOS, DANDINO Sprint: LORD KANALOA, LUCKY NINE, FREDERICK ENGELS, STERLING CITY Mile: SKY LANTERN, MOONLIGHT CLOUD, GOLD-FUN, XTENSION; long-shot of the day: PACKING WHIZ Cup: SIDE GLANCE, CIRRUS DES AIGLES, ENDOWING, BLAZING SPEED
Latest morning work videos for KING KREESA and LITTLE MIKE in Hong Kong (Click on the date, then select either Longines HONG KONG MILE or HONG KONG CUP): http://www.hkjc.com/english/press/daily_trackwork.asp
Little Mike drew perfectly in the Hong Kong Cup at Post Position 6. King Kreesa was not as lucky, drawing post 11. Luckily he'll have the entire backstretch to work his way over to a nice position near the front of the pack.
I was lucky enough to attend the races in Hong Kong years ago, at Happy Valley not Sha Tin, and it was a great experience. Sitting in the stands and looking out at the Hong Kong skyline is pretty special, and the level of racing is outstanding. I hope the American horses do well, but they are in with some very tough horses.
A hard task to be sure for Mike and King, but I appreciate the connections being willing to take the shot.
for me its the fugue,lord kanaloa,sky lantern and akeed mofeed the biggest flop will be moonlight clould her form outside of france is poor and she has no firm ground form i don't even think she will place top 5
@kaitlinefree1, I'd have to agree. The European horses who ship to Hong Kong even have a hard time beating the top local Hong Kong based horses at Sha Tin. I like Akeed Mofeed just marginally over Military Attack in the Hong Kong Cup. In the Mile, I think both Moonlight Cloud & Sky Lantern could certainly get a piece of the race if at their best, but given his current level of form at Sha Tin over the past 3 or 4 months, I think both will find beating Gold-Fun a tough row to hoe in the Mile. Though I'd like to see Slade Power win the Hong Kong Sprint, I'd be surprised to see anyone beat Lord Kanaloa again this year. I think the Euro's best shot is in the Vase again, where I think it will come down to a tough grinding finish between The Fugue & Red Cadeaux.
i love Little Mike & King Kreesa, but i don't think they have much of a shot here...
If Simonen is entered in a race, he has my full backing.
I'm a big fan of American but the international calendar of races after BC is awesome! Go The Fugue, Red Cadeaux, Little Mike, King Kreesa, Military Attack, Dandino and Simenon.

Meet Matt Scott 

My horseracing journey began when I was 16 years old and my mom took me to Hollywood Park. Although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, the experience stuck with me forever. 10 years later, during one of my many international business trips to Hong Kong, I visited Sha Tin racetrack to watch the races. This is where my true passion began. 

 

Holding a masters degree in mechanical engineering, the puzzle of handicapping intrigued me. I have made a career of making decisions based on trends, patterns, and formulas, which is why I think I was initially drawn to the sport. However, I have truly learned to appreciate the horses and how magnificent they are as athletes. 

 

I currently live in San Jose, CA, and when not following racing, I like to spend time with my wife, mountain bike, and design high-speed bicycles that I build and race For reference, 55,000 furlongs is the distance from Hong Kong to my home in San Jose. Also, I have 1-year-old dachshund (aka wiener dog) that I am training to race in the annual Wiener Nationals held at Golden Gate Fields.   

 

The purpose of this blog is to help give people the viewpoint of a fan that is newer to the sport and eager to learn. I like to respectfully speak my mind, and often the ideas come out of left field, which could give a fresh perspective on a sport rich with tradition and history. hope to represent the many future fans that I wish to follow my footsteps into the Sport of Kings.